it's true. i think the taxi rides are the best part of shanghai. many are non-descript but then you get one that speaks a few random words in english and the fun begins.
last night, the ride included myself, jenna, and steve, a brit that we met here. not long after we started going, the driver points to me (in the front seat) and starts saying something that sounds kind of like "english." thinking he means the language i speak, i nod vigorously, yes, english! until steve pipes in, no i'm english, she's american. ah, i get it now. but it doesn't matter, in fact, it's probably even better because then the taxi driver starts pumping his hands in the air and saying Obama! and lots of things in chinese. we also hear Clinton in there somewhere and it takes a bit of broken chinese on our part, but we finally figure out that he is, in fact a democrat, rooting for clinton and then obama. hung hao obama! (very good obama!) bu yao McCain. (no want McCain.)
after finding the political cartoon for obama in the chinese newspaper at his side, the taxi driver then turns to steve and starts saying something about the english soccer players, i think. i didn't know who he was talking about, but steve did and the taxi driver seemed very excited about it. he kept mimicking one of the soccer players, who is apparently quite known for his boasting. even without knowing the real people, the imitation was hilarious.
we also spent some time discussing where in our respective countries each of us is from. as soon as i said america, the taxi driver started listing off the cities that he knows - san francisco, los angeles, new york, bismark. so i say nebraska! and he looks confused so i make a map in the air and point to the middle. and he says something in chinese that i think meant, oh, ok, the middle. and so i show him bismark and nebraska on our imaginary map and hope he will remember so that he can make the day of the next american he drives. then we point to jenna and say michigan, detroit? michigan? and of course he knows michigan. why bismark and michigan, i have no idea, but then, that's just how things go here in china. (we also mentioned houston and yao ming, as that's usually a crowd-pleaser, but he was not a fan of yao ming and the conversation quickly turned.)
our discussion also included starbucks - cappuccino, mmm! and how the US doesn't like to let people in. it went something like, "wao (me) love USA! (make passport gesture) USA no, no, no, no, no!"
and finally, to top it all off, our cab driver starts humming yankee doodle. yes, yankee doodle. then he says "america, something something something in chinese. england, something in chinese, pow pow pow," complete with the gun hand motions and sound effects. yes, there was a war, but it's ok, we're friends now. thanks for that refresher on american history. i needed it.